Suppose a man dresses as a woman, and he does so so well that a casual observer couldn’t tell that he’s actually a man.1 Is this man obligated in the rules of tznius as they apply to women (ex. covering his upper arms, wearing a skirt at least knee-length, wearing a shirt with a high-enough collar, etc.) so long as he appears as one, or do they apply only to women, and since he’s not a woman he’s exempt?

I assume he’d have to keep them due to Mar’is Ayin concerns. I’m asking here if he’s fundamentally obligated in tznius because the actual halachos of tznius apply to him, not because people may think he’s ignoring the rules.

1I am not talking about a transgender, if that makes a difference. Why is he crossdressing? Maybe it’s Purim. Maybe he doesn’t care about the Torah prohibition against crossdressing. I dunno. Only address the reason if it makes a distinction in terms of the answer.

  • I believe that he needs to follow the men tzniut laws. Wouldn't it be somewhat obvious that he looks like a man and is wearing a female costume? Once you heard him talk and look at the build / shape, I think most people would figure it out.
    – DanF
    Jun 13, 2019 at 14:57
  • @DanF Hence why I’m presupposing a case where it’s more difficult to tell.
    – DonielF
    Jun 13, 2019 at 15:01
  • Possible duplicate judaism.stackexchange.com/q/27206/759
    – Double AA
    Jun 13, 2019 at 15:04
  • @DoubleAA There are many halachos which are different between קול אשה and צניעות (ex. many hold that קול אשה is allowed if she’s singing among others, while no similar leniency applies to צניעות). Further, a better parallel to the parrot case would be if one could look at a man who looks like a woman, not the restrictions on the man dressing in the first place.
    – DonielF
    Jun 13, 2019 at 15:09
  • @Doniel I'm not aware of any such Halakhic differences. Kol is just one kind of body part which should generally remain reasonably private. You may have thought otherwise since, like hair, it's not really a body part. That's why the Gemara has special derivations related to them. You're right that looking is different from being looked at, but in this case there's no reason to expect a concern for any other reason than being looked at.
    – Double AA
    Jun 13, 2019 at 15:13

1 Answer 1


There are two parts to Tznius - גברא וחפצא:

  • חפצא: the ערוה parts of the body are forbidden to be seen by their essence (even reading Shema to oneself).

  • גברא: failing others on לא תתורו, provoking forbidden thoughts in others.

Therefore, while there's no fear of the first, the later is surely forbidden, and it does not matter what the person does as long as it makes the same impact on others. And it isn't Maris Ayn, it's גופא עבירה.

  • 2
    Not sure a woman would appreciate being called a חפצא. :) Do you have a source for this?
    – DonielF
    Jun 13, 2019 at 23:10
  • I didn't say a woman IS חפצא I said those body parts are.
    – Al Berko
    Jun 13, 2019 at 23:13

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